With his gorgeous work on titles like
NERDIST: After your work exploring subversive romantic relationships in
And once I’d that figured out, I decided to write a pitch. So I contacted my editor at the time, Andy Khouri, and asked him what the process of pitching something like this would be. I showed it to him and he was impressed and interested in it and we took it from there. And here we are.
NERDIST: The first issue does a great job of building Harley as a character in her own right before she meets the Joker properly. How important was that to you when it came to this book?
Stjepan Sejic: The concept for
NERDIST: Something that comes through in the first issue is that although we’re seeing Harley fall for the Joker, she’s aware of the abusive nature of the relationship. Could you talk a little more about how that relationship is explored throughout the series?
Stjepan Sejic: One of the things I’ve learned and started mastering through
When you start reading it, and for a while, it’s gonna seem like “Oh, maybe, she may actually save him.” We believe that she believes that she can save him, that she can help him, that she alone can restore his humanity. But the problem is that as readers we’re also going to be privy to other information through the story. And we will see the darker side of it all. At the end of it all, the story of Harley and Joker is essentially a story of
It’s an age-old romance archetype except with a twist. In most versions of romance novels where, you know, Beauty helps the Beast regain his humanity or be, you know, a wealthy billionaire with a penchant for BDSM at the end of it all, you know, it’s always Beauty helps Beast gain his humanity. In this case, it doesn’t go like that. The Beast pulls the Beauty a bit deeper into the pit. And that’s where the Beauty grows her own fangs.
NERDIST: You mentioned your process of doing sketches and character explorations before crafting a story, but what was it about Harley that made you decide this was a story you wanted to tell?
Stjepan Sejic: It’s that clear, almost body horror concept of somebody who’s able to understand that what they’re doing is wrong—that’s irrevocably evil—but they keep making excuses because they have an addictive nature. Make no mistake: the relationship that Harley has with the Joker is codependent and it’s addictive.
There’s sanity in her, she understands, she has the knowledge in her mind, she still has that psychiatrist mentality, except somebody else is at the wheel, you know? She can comprehend it. There’s this terrifying nature to that, you know, doing horrible things in your life. You know what it is, but you keep finding new ways and new excuses to justify yourself to yourself. That’s scary, that’s powerful stuff.
Stjepan Sejic: He’s a monster to her, he’s as scary as the Joker. That’s one of those things like we always read Batman—and Batman books—as if we see the world through the eyes of Batman. But the thing is you never really see what he’s like through the eyes of others, through the eyes of somebody who really doesn’t want to deal with him, that doesn’t want Batman in their life, that doesn’t want to see him stomping around breaking bones. So to somebody who sees that it’s scary, it’s a scary concept, you know, and it’s a concept that kind of sticks with you in a way that it stuck with Harley as you’ll see as the story goes forward.
NERDIST: Do you have a moment or a character beat that you’re really excited for fans to discover when they pick up
Stjepan Sejic: For me, it’s that final dialogue at the end of the issue, just because that’s literally what sold the book to DC. Before, while I was pitching it, it was just a vague concept. And then I was like, “You know what, I’m gonna make this final scene in the first book.” So I sketched it out and lettered the dialogue just so that they could see what I was offering. And I just sent it to my editor Andi and he was like, “Just just give them this.” Then the next day they got back and were like, “Yep, approved.”
NERDIST: What can you tease about the next couple of issues?
Stjepan Sejic: The second issue is gonna be a massive gut punch. The second issue is going to be intense and I’m not saying that lightly. The third issue, I’m going to break everybody and then I’m gonna laugh. Seriously, if you’ve read my stuff, if you read the finale of